My speech today at 131st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva at the third Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights.
We are here to address the interface and tension between the international commitment to protect human rights and some more traditional principles of interaction between States.
In many ways it is a tricky issue. The topic has burning actuality.
There are so many examples across the world. Let me focus on one.
In the horrifying ongoing emergency situation in Syria and Iraq people are under the jihadist’s knife of the Islamic State. IS/Da’ech is a non-state actor and it thrives on chaos. It is a group of vicious extremists killing women and children. Cutting off journalists and aid workers heads on social media. All to be seen on internet and in every household in the world.
Urgent attention is needed to the horrific situation of women and girls in the region of Syria and Iraq. Women and children are being kidnapped, sold into sex slavery, raped and forced into marriage. And babies are thorn from the arms of their mothers.
These horrifying facts needs to be addressed by us, by us in this room, by the IPU for the credibility of our commitment to the core values we share on human rights.
Let me ask you a question. Do we have an obligation to intervene to protect human lives?
And let me give my answer to that question. I would say yes we do. When diplomatic and peaceful means are inadequate we must consider other measures needed to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
It must be a priority for the international community to capacitate each individual State so that they themselves are capable of protecting their citizens. When, or if, they fail, as in this case, it is essential that we act in order to protect lives of civilians and vulnerable refugees.
It is our common responsibility to protect human beings from sex slavery, kidnapping, early and forced marriage and killings. We need to protect women and children from extremists and terrorists like IS/Da’ech.
The draft resolution underscores the prime responsibility of each State in implementing international human rights law at the national level. However, the protection of human rights is also the responsibility of the international community.
Let me highlight that we are all aware of the universal truth that there can be no lasting peace and security in our World without respect for human rights, including equal rights for men and women, fundamental freedoms, democracy and rule of law – and this is a legitimate concern of all of us.
Universal human rights is not only a national issue. It is an international responsibility.
It is our responsibility to act according to the well known principle responsibility to protect.
As a state you can not and must not hide yourself behind national sovereignty in order to oppress the population, commit genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.